With so many people seeking COVID-19 testing, the demand can be a tough challenge to meet. To help meet this demand, Porter County Health Department (PCHD) has set up two new sites where the public can go to get tested for COVID-19. The first COVID-19 testing site is located in the 4H Building at the Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso. This Valparaiso testing location is larger than its counterpart, the Portage testing location located at 6040 Lute Rd. in Portage.
“Originally, we started with only half of the 4H Building, but the number of people coming to be tested became more than what we could handle based on space,” said Health Administrator Letty Zepeda. “People were waiting outside in inclement weather, or in their cars as we made room to process them. Lori Daly, the Expo Center Director, and the Porter County commissioners were able to provide us with the entire 4H Building, which allowed us to build two mini test sites within the one building.”
Once they were able to open the other side of the 4H Building and create two mini test sites, more people were able to enter the building without an overcrowding issue. With two mini test sites up and running in the building, they added a traffic control officer to direct people to either the north or south side. The traffic control officer tracks how many people are sent to each site to help maintain an equal balance.
“The opening of the two sides has helped tremendously in getting people in and out, plus in the early part of set up of our test site, most of the people coming to be tested were people not registered, which tied up our time in registering them,” Zepeda said.
The Valparaiso testing location has two to four nurses on both the north and south sides to handle the swabbing as well as two registration staff to handle registration. If an individual is a walk-in, the registration staff directs them to another individual to be registered.
While walk-ins are welcome at both the Valparaiso and Portage locations, registering prior to visiting one of these locations is encouraged. Not registering slows down the process and can take an extra 10-20 minutes.
PCHD opened the Portage testing location in addition to the Valparaiso testing location because of the ever-growing need and because of the mayor’s prompting.
“The mayor of Portage made several requests to get a test site in Portage to accommodate those that could not drive or make it to Valpo,” Zepeda said. “We at the Health Department worked very hard to find a location to assist with this accommodation. Dr. Maria Stamp, Health Officer for the PCHD, was able to come to an agreement with Northwest Health, who offered their location on Lute Road at no cost.”
PCHD is following The State Department of Health’s rules for how frequently they can hold appointments, which is based on how many staff members are working. Both testing locations have expanded their appointment offerings with the Valparaiso testing location moving from its limit of three appointments every 15 minutes to 10 appointments every 15 minutes and the Portage testing location moving from its limit of three appointments every 15 minutes to seven appointments every 15 minutes.
For more information about Porter County Health Department’s Valparaiso and Portage testing locations, visit https://www.porterco.org/1614/COVID-19-Testing-Information.